Roger EbertRobert Ebert was my first and last source for movies and writing.

The iconic film critic died Thursday at 70 years old, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

More than 10 years ago, movies were one of my main joys. With my film passion came the need to write. So I created a website for my movie reviews.

I would watch a film, write a review and then read Ebert’s review.

I felt inadequate every single time. But I didn’t hang my head in disgust. Ebert made me want to be better. I found his writing engaging and passionate, two qualities that stood out in his reviews.

I wanted to write like Ebert because even in 300 words he made me feel. It didn’t matter what the feeling was—there was always an emotion. I love video games and didn’t agree with Ebert’s sentiment that video games weren’t art. There have been many video games that have evoked similar reactions to those evoked in books, or by writing.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t respect his opinion. That’s what made his writing so great to me. No matter what side you leaned on, he still made you think.

When I learned about Ebert’s death on Thursday afternoon, I stopped for reflection. Admittedly, not many celebrities have been able to elicit that sort of response from me. The list is extremely small, consisting of just a handful of names. Right now, Ebert sits high on top.

Ebert and Gene Siskel entered our homes with their goofy ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down’ bit; usually I was awake far too long if I caught this on television. But Ebert made movies his career and his life, and he made it a part of ours, too.

Even though I’ve made a career out of writing, I don’t have a long list of those who’ve inspired me. I always enjoyed reading and putting stories to paper. But there weren’t many writers who challenged the way I actually thought about writing. Roger Ebert, though, was one of them.

Rest in peace, Roger.


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail